It was with some calculation that I prepared for the day when my daughter would first be "visited" by her "friend."
Beth Falkenstein: Menarche. It's the transitional milestone in every daughter's life that every mother anticipates with mixed emotion. And for generations, the poignant discussion of "Now you are a woman" has been followed closely by the decidedly less touching conversation: "Here, shove this up your hootie."
To hear my mother tell it, on her first try, she was confounded as to how this invention could ever be preferable to the mattress she had been wearing between her legs. That was, until some angel explained that the applicator was supposed to be removed after insertion!
Perhaps that explains why, when it came time to instruct her own daughter in the proper use of a tampon, my mother got out the spelunking equipment. She had me spread-eagled on the floor, directing me through a pelvic self-exam that would have made any OB/GYN proud.
So it was with some calculation that I prepared for the day when my daughter would first be "visited" by her "friend." This was my chance to leave my own mark on this rite of passage, this passing of the baton, if you will.
When the day came, I had a box at the ready (the same brand reportedly popular with her girlfriends). I handed it to her and waited outside the bathroom door for her invitation. Should I be, um, hands-on, like my mother, or should I simply sit by her side, reading the instructions included in the box? Should I be clinical in my terminology, or should I use euphemisms (like "hootie," "visit," and "friend")? One moment of insensitivity and our relationship could suffer an indelible black mark.
After five minutes or so, the door opened. "Are you ready for me to help?" I asked with great sensitivity. "No, it's in," she commented flatly as she breezed past me into her bedroom, closing the door behind her.
At first, I felt cheated. This was supposed to be my mentoring moment. It was difficult to accept the fact that my daughter was able to navigate such a significant crossroads on her own.
Or maybe I should be proud of her self-sufficiency. I tried to just let matters lie, but the maternal instinct was running circles through my brain. She must need me on some level! Finally I peeked into her room, concerned yet discreet. There was just one thing I needed to make sure she knew:
"Did you remember to take out the applicator?"
A (serious) personal plea to all pre-menopausal women: The paper vs. plastic debate continues. For the sake of our environment, please consider switching from brands with plastic applicators to either biodegradable cardboard or digital tampons (OBs). Thank you.
|Beth Falkenstein was a sitcom writer and freelance contributor to "Self," "Redbook," and "YM" magazines before taking a full time job in her kitchen. She loves her new bosses (ages 13 and 10), and is grateful that they approve of inter-office romance, because Beth thinks her co-worker (Jim, age 45) is really hot.|